Stories about: metabolism

Could Burmese pythons shed light on diabetes?

Burmese pythons diabetes

Originally from Southeast Asia, Burmese pythons are perhaps best known in the U.S. for the havoc they’ve been creating in the Everglades. Kept as pets and released into the wild, they can grow to nearly 20 feet long, and are hunting animals like marsh rabbits toward extinction (a problem Florida is trying to address with an annual Python Removal Competition).

But in the lab, at a diminutive 3 feet in length, Burmese pythons may hold valuable lessons about diabetes.

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Connecting unexpected dots between cancer and diabetes

George Daley and his lab may have found a new way to connect the dots between cancer and diabetes. (michelle.gray/Flickr)

Most of us think about cancer as a disease of genes gone awry – of mutations, deletions, duplications, etc. causing unchecked cell growth.

But could you also view cancer as a metabolic disorder, like type 2 diabetes? George Daley and his lab in the Stem Cell Transplantation Program at Children’s have found some intriguing molecular links that make this a plausible idea.

While it’s not yet clear what this means for patients with either disease, the findings help untangle some very perplexing data about human genetics and diabetes risk, and could change doctors’ thinking about the treatment of both conditions down the road.

Scientists have long known that cancerous and healthy cells don’t use sugar in the same ways.

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Boosting the “good” fat: Kids may lead the way

Brown fat

Just as there’s good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, good carbs and bad carbs, there’s also good fat. Whereas white fat stores energy, padding our hips, thighs, arms and bellies, brown fat — studded with energy generators known as mitochondria – burns energy.  Newborns have a ring of brown fat around their necks, helping them stay warm. By adulthood, it’s detectable in only 3 percent of men and 7.5 percent of women, with higher rates among younger and thinner people.

In a study released yesterday by the Journal of Pediatrics, positron emission tomography (PET) scanning reveals the presence of brown fat in nearly half of children, though its level of energy-burning activity varies.

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